Rachel stared at the stranger in her vanity mirror. Perhaps if she gazed long enough into the reflective glass that person would vanish. Fade away like the morning fog overcome by the heat of the sun. But there was no warmth in Rachel’s eyes or heart to drive the apparition away. The woman with the hollow eyes still mocked her, staring back at her in disdain.
In a hushed whisper, Rachel uttered a word that has been voiced by countless millions over endless generations. A word repeated so frequently and in some many forms that most have all but lost expectation of an answer. A word screamed in fox holes, gasped in hospitals, and more often than not whispered in the dead of the night.
Forcing her gaze to unlock from the person in the mirror, Rachel closed her eyes tightly mustering whatever remnant of faith she had left. Faith! She almost laughed out loud at the thinking of the word. Why, she had no more faith than the ghost in the mirror. Her faith was a speck of dust on the dung heap of humanity’s disappointments.
But still. With the little speck she had, Rachel peered out the window into the dark night sky and dared to ask,
“Why what?” A much hoped for yet even more unexpected voice replied.
The poor woman clamped her hand over her mouth to keep from shouting in her fright. She plastered herself against the wall as if hoping to blend in with its hand-painted decorations and then forced her self to peek and see who had intruded her home.
Somehow her one word question fueled by a tiny spark of hope had opened her eyes to a presence all but forgotten. No, not forgotten. More like packed away in the bottom of a hope chest. A fond memory from a more innocent time. Always there at the foot of the bed but unseen for a very long while.
“Why what?” the voice repeated.
“Why did it have to be this way?” She was a little bolder now. She turned and looked at the empty bed. “I mean, why did we have to go through so much? Why did it have to come to this?”
Freedom to ask broke open a dam of pent up questions. Rachel’s one “why” became a flood of “whys”. Each one built on the next like waves pounding on the sea walls near her home. Finally, after a torrent of “whys” Rachel plopped back, spent from her tidal-wave of wonderings. Then, like the last gasp of an abating storm she whispered in a raspy voice,
“Just – why?”
If he was offended by the question, the presence did not show it. To the contrary he smiled warmly and took Rachel by the hand and whispered softly. “I want to show you something.”
The weary woman was startled. In all the recorded histories, the same question had been asked countless times without, as far as she knew, a single recorded instance of an answer.
The presence sensed her amazement and spoke. “No word spoken by mankind greases the wheels of eternity better than why. But that question cannot be answered with a word. It must be understood through a journey. Will you follow me there?”
“How long will it take?”
“Until you see.”
“Will the woman in the mirror still be there?”
“That depends on where you look. And, in whom you trust.”
“Will I understand?”
“Only when the journey is finished.”
Warmth enveloped Rachel like a downy comforter. Something stirred in her heart and she raised her head higher than it had been in some time. The visage in the mirror was still there but something had changed. Its lines were softer and a faint glow rose from behind it. Amazing how much better she looked when seen through the eyes of faith.
Rachel walked back to her still empty bed. She lay with a cherished photo of the man her carelessness had driven away. And she slept with none of her “whys” answered. At least not in the way she had first hoped. But in the night she saw. And, she believed. Somehow she knew the man would return. And when the journey was over they both would understand.
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